Abstract and Masculine Language in Nuclear Planning

Cohn provides an interesting and insightful view by delving deep into the culture of nuclear discussion and policy. Most interesting to me is her discussion of the hushed underlying of nuclear weapons talk and this class in general: the abstract and euphoric language used. Professor Glaser has done well at injecting reality into our lectures, confirming that when we are optimizing the blast radius of a bomb we are in fact calculating the height in which we can best destroy cities, homes, and lives. He does so because as Cohn points out, is easy to disconnect nuclear discussion. “Clean bombs” disfigure and kill hundreds and destroy cities. The MX missile, capable of inflicting multiple targets, is a ‘peacekeeper.’ Language is domesticized in order to better

As a non-sciencey individual, it is this concept that most interests me about this class and the readings. Learning the details of rocketry and other scientific facts is very interesting, but not as much as the psychological aspect. The fact that the entire metropolises and human lives are behind our estimations is . Do other non-physic/science majors have difficulty overlooking this underlying aspect? For the science majors, what would your response be to this? I understand that is a very basic question, but will give great insight to a often glazed over topic.

Not as logical is Cohn’s description the domination of males in the field and the resulting sexual innuendos and lingo. Feminists often describe this phallic worship and “missile” envy is the most important aspect of the arms race. Exemplified by nuclear virginity of nations being taken, putting the missiles in the hole, and getting the most bang for your buck, the language is testosterone induced and filled with sexual references.

In regards to these two observations, I completely agree with Cohn’s statement, “sanitized abstraction and sexual … imagery, even if disturbing, seemed easily to fit into the masculinist world of nuclear war planning.” Whether it is masculinity or nationalism, a nation must be willing to be aggressive and assertive in such high stakes. Do you agree with Cohn’s statement? Do you think a sense of superiority, often coinciding or referred to over-masculinity, is somewhat inherent and necessary to nuclear war planning? — Connor